Monday, 16 March 2009

The Providores

What’s my beef with The Providores? Three things and in no particular order; firstly the à la Carte dining here has always been way beyond the budget of most people, secondly the conjoined and destination Tapa Room is always packed (be it night or day) and lastly why has Peter Gordon been denied one of those M stars? There’s absolutely nothing I can do with the last two squabbles; but the first one has at last been rectified and it only chances on one day a week. Dear readers, the Providores Sunday Roast is quite simply gifted for your taking; as well as ticking all the right boxes for a meal to remember, it also tickles the taste buds with the utmost joyfulness.

This is a review of The Providores only, for the Tapa Room please head to Yuet Ling’s lovely write up.

The only way to describe the food here at The Providores is that of a circumnavigated cornucopia of edible goodness. The Providores is also the only eating place on the 'oh so' illustrious Marylebone High Street that is worthy of a pilgrimage (L’Autre Pied, excellent in its own right, is not on the same road). The dining room still
looks more or less the same as it did when I first visited seven years ago. The smallish but comfy room will definitely encourage elbow to elbow dining when the capacity of the thirty or so diners is met.

I’m not keen on dimly lit rooms, this is certainly one of them. In my view table 7 is the ultimate aspiration for solo diners or couples, from there you have the double pleasure of reconnoitring the whole dining room plus the window view of what’s rocking on Marylebone High Street. The service is that of a typical antipodal pleasure; no nonsense pluckiness and the usual friendly assertiveness. Bonny (I think that’s her name); thank you Kiwi girl for a wonderful evening.

The Sunday Roast menu consists of three choices for each of the three courses.
£29.00 all in to include a glass of strong grape juice and coffee or tea (£24.50 for those with an elected or forced allergy to alcohol). The menu may also prove a hit should one decide to turn up with a group of friends that include veggies and carnivores (vegans, the poor dears, are once again not part of the equation). The room was justifiably packed by 7.30pm and if I’m not wong everyone went for the Sunday Roast.

Most Confirmed Bachelor’s (MCB) first course of Crispy ham hock salad with Sichuan sweet and sour pineapple, pickled carrot, cucumber, coriander and crunchy peanuts. MCB declared this a triumph and I agreed. There’s a lot crunch involved with this dish and I suspect those with weaker jaws might find it challenging. Despite the Sichuan persuasion none of our tongues were set on fire.

My Teriyaki style smoked eel salad on celeriac and apple remoulade with wasabi tobikko and crispy karengo. Every time I see eel on a menu, guilt overcomes me with the questionable sustainability of this wonderful fish. Slap on wrist, I always enjoy eating it without fail. Tonight’s dish was no exception and that photo snapped with a flash doesn’t do it any justice. This take on the Japanese dish was fantastic, the sweet (without overly so) and juicy eel coupled with the celeriac and apple salad was a masterstroke. Yummy beyond belief.

BTW, just to ease things on the Wiki side of things, those green bubbles are the wasabied flying fish roe (tobikko) and a first for me karengo is Kiwi seaweed.

Both MCB and I went for the Roast Argentinean beef sirloin with Yorkshire pudding and chimichurri salsa for our second courses. To the astonishment of Bonny, MCB wanted his beef well done (I’m used to his strange and usual request for his steak to be charred to death- I believe the aversion to anything that reminded him of blood came about watching too many Christopher Lee movies when he was younger). MCB was also adamant that the chimichurri sauce was Indian, and I reiterated as ‘yes you’re right, Mexican Indian’ MCB countered with ‘no I meant Indian subcontinent, like Brick Lane’. Holy baloney, I hissed, it tasted nothing of Indian whatsoever you non foodie buffoon, it’s Mexican! We were both erroneous of course, chimichurri is a coriander-based sauce of argentine origin to accompany or marinade the beef. The beef was indeed delicious, everything on the plate just clicked. One minor observation, despite my beef cooked medium rare, it was slightly chewy and not quite melt in the mouth.

Be warned that the mains come with huge sides of roast potatoes, buttered minted peas and creamed leeks. They are effectively an entire meal unto themselves. I blame the over consumption of the leeks on forsaking the cheese as my third course.

MCB’s final dish of Strawberry and Mango Sorbets with wine poached apricots and nut biscotti. Apricots are my personal no-no (long story that deserves a separate posting in its own right), so I couldn’t try this dessert. MCB grumbled something about the apricots being the dried variety that might as well have been bought from the Holland and Barrett store a few doors down. Despite that, it must have been good, as nothing was left on the plate!

My excellent pudding of Rhubarb, apple and stem ginger crumble with Jasmine tea custard and clotted cream. I was charmed by the floral notes of the custard and welcomed the taming of the rhubarb‘s tartness by the sweet crumble.

Perfectly concocted. This is the kind of pudding that can be entered into a competition and easily walk away with the first prize.

We completed the meal with a huge selection of teas offered to us. My green tea with rice was a perfect end to a chocker of an evening.

Some good things do come out of the recession, The Providores Sunday Roast is most certainly one of them. The value of the three courses, and not to mention the quality and quantity of the food, is simply astounding. Peter Gordon, you’re a Kiwi Gent- Taa Bro! Highly recommended.

NB no mention of this word once in this review.

109 Marylebone High Street
London W1U 4RX


Anonymous said...

What a hearty meal, something I would dearly love to have every Sunday! I particularly love the sound of your pudding...

Thanks for linking to my Tapa breakfast. I've linked to your dinner!

Anonymous said...

Ham hock and smoked eel, both recent obsessions of mine. I thought I may have got over them and then I saw those dishes. That crispy ham hock is particularly intriguing.

bellaphon said...

@HYL- I'm more than abided by, thank you.

@Helen- Everything on the menu intrigues. I believe that if one comes here for the first time they ought to try out the signature dishes of either Turkish Eggs or Laksa.

Douglas Blyde said...

We don't differ on all - I liked this one too!